Las Vegas Sun

November 18, 2018

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With his experience, Steve Sisolak is perfectly positioned to lead Nevada

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Steve Marcus

Steve Sisolak, center, Clark County Commission chairman and Democratic candidate for Nevada governor, attends during a gubernatorial candidates accountability session with Nevadans for the Common Good at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Summerlin Tuesday, May 8, 2018. STEVE MARCUS

We recognized that we could no longer rely on tourism and mining, so we made an investment in recruiting new companies to diversify our economy.

We recognized that our public schools were not only underserving our children but were an impediment to attracting new businesses and residents, so we poured millions of dollars into them.

We recognized that the engine of our economy, Las Vegas, needed to boost its health care system, so we created the UNLV Medical School.

Welcome to the “new Nevada,” as it’s been called in recent years. It’s a name that fits, as the state has begun a remarkable transformation in the years since the recession.

Now, as Nevadans prepare to elect a new governor, the choice comes down to which candidate is best suited to keep us moving on our current trajectory.

We believe Steve Sisolak is that candidate.

A political moderate with a long history of serving Nevadans and working with all sides on issues, Sisolak embodies the kind of progressive yet pragmatic thinking that has driven progress in Southern Nevada and across the state in recent years.

He’s the ideal candidate to succeed term-limited Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, who has done an extraordinary job of prioritizing the best interests of Nevadans over petty partisan politics during his eight years in office.

Sisolak’s background gives him a keen understanding of Southern Nevada’s needs and also makes him the strongest candidate for the state at large.

In Sandoval, we have benefited from one of the finest governors in any state. Without question, Sisolak will continue that tradition and passionately represent the interests of all Nevadans.

As Clark County Commission chairman, Sisolak supported public funding for the Raiders stadium when finding a politician to speak in favor of it was a difficult job. He also backed funding for the much-needed expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center, recognizing both that project and the stadium as integral to maintaining Las Vegas’ standing as one of the world’s leading destinations for tourists and conventiongoers.

He has said he would protect one of Sandoval’s signature accomplishments, the $1.4 billion tax package for public schools in 2015, which not only protected funding for schools but enhanced it. Sisolak also has defended Sandoval’s decision to expand Medicaid coverage in Nevada and said he would oppose any effort to dial it back. He’s positioned himself as a strong supporter of women’s reproductive rights and access to health care, saying he supports a woman’s rights to choose and supports funding health clinics specializing in women’s care.

On immigration, Sisolak lines up favorably with Sandoval. When the Trump administration announced it was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, for instance, Sisolak criticized the move as “a rare combination of stark cruelty and profoundly irresponsible policy.” He further expressed concern for the 13,000 immigrants living in Nevada who would be affected.

That response brings to mind Sandoval’s opposition to President Donald Trump on immigration issues, including on DACA and on a proposal to use state National Guard forces to round up and deport undocumented immigrants.

Sisolak’s strengths also include his experience as a 10-year member of the Nevada Board of Regents, a position in which he advocated for the UNLV medical school. His effort was ahead of its time, and it unfortunately failed. But others picked up the torch and succeeded in establishing the school, proving that his vision was the correct one.

Sisolak also has expressed support for such sensible gun-safety measures as a ban on bump stocks and high-capacity magazines.

As for other statewide issues, Sisolak said he would differ from Sandoval in his approach to the kind of economic development efforts that attracted Tesla and other major companies to Northern Nevada. Sisolak said he would be less likely to offer large incentives or abatements to individual companies but instead would focus on expansion of entire industries. He also said he would work to make it easier for small businesses to take root or expand in the state.

So for the breadth and depth of his experience, and for his potential to pick up where Sandoval will leave off, Sisolak is the right candidate.

Conversely, Republican candidate Adam Laxalt is a wild-eyed extremist who would undercut public schools, erode women’s reproductive health and rights, weaken gun safety and embrace anti-immigrant policies.

To voters who are assessing Sisolak and Laxalt, perhaps nothing is as telling as the fact that Sandoval is not endorsing Laxalt despite being in the same party.

The two Republicans have been at odds on issues including environmental protections and immigration since Laxalt was elected as Nevada’s attorney general in 2014, but the boiling point appears to have occurred when Laxalt pledged to repeal the commerce tax that funded one of Sandoval’s signature accomplishments — the $1.4 billion tax increase for K-12 schools in 2015.

As Sandoval has pointed out, eliminating the tax and reducing funding for schools would not only hurt Nevada children but would weaken the state’s economic development as well. Out-of-state businesses have long cited the state’s underperforming schools as a reason not to expand to Nevada, preferring instead to locate in states where their employees’ children can get a better education.

Laxalt, who is heavily supported by the NRA, also would take the state in exactly the wrong direction on gun safety. He showed his stripes most clearly on the 2016 ballot question establishing universal background checks on gun purchases, which he campaigned against. Then, when complications arose in instituting the new checks, Laxalt did nothing to back the will of the people.

Simply put, Laxalt has proved himself to be contemptuous of the will of the voters, the Legislature and the governor’s office. Instead, he panders to a narrow group of special interests who own him.

Then there’s his experience as a government leader, where he’s a neophyte compared to Sisolak.

At a time when Nevada is moving steadily forward, Laxalt threatens to disrupt its trajectory by focusing on extremist ideology instead of what’s best for the state’s residents.

Sisolak, on the other hand, is perfectly positioned to help the state continue its progress.

Nevada needs Sisolak’s leadership.